Rafa has had a tremendous tennis career. Today he turns 31 and he has spent almost half his life playing and ruling tennis. He raised the level of tennis. The Mallorcan never ceased to impress with his undying passion, motivation and grit. Today Nadal added another impressive achievement to his glittering, legendary resume. The World No. 4 has become just the 12th player aged 31 & over to feature in the Top 5 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, since its inception on 23 August 1973.
Among the countless moments on court that the Spaniard celebrated which includes his epic battles with Federer, his 9 French Open titles and his rising like phoenix from the ashes. We enlist 5 of his milestone moments from his career which in no way encompasses all his achievements.
1) First Grand Slam win at 2005 Rolland Garros
There is no felling like the first. The next 8 French Open titles wouldn’t feel the way the first did. Rafa was the 4th seed in the tournaments. Despite, he was hot favorite having won the Rome Masters and Monte Carlo Masters that season.
He defeated Mariano Puerta in a four set match, 6-7 6-3 6-1 7-5. This was the beginning of an era. A legend was born. It was the first of his eventual 9 Grand Slam victories.
2) Defeating Federer at Wimbledon 2008
Already a Clay court master, Rafa wanted to conquer Wimbledon. But the conquest meant to defeat his biggest rival, Roger Federer, who owned that court. This made the win that much more special. Nothing can compare to the flashing lightbulbs in the fading light and the screams of the crowd when it was over.
One of the greatest sporting moments in the history of the game for its length, conducted with three rain delays. A classic installment between legendary rivals. Moments like this create a passion for the game of tennis for an audience around the world.
3) Winning the Olympic Gold in 2008
Once again, as it had throughout the spring and summer of 2008, Rafa’s road to victory went through Novak Djokovic. The most memorable of the Olympic matches, is their forehand-liscious semifinal struggle.
This new Olympic champion cemented his place in tennis history by winning gold in his first try. Nadal wins 6-3 7-6 (2) 6-3, beating Olympic medallist Fernando Gonzalez, who settles for silver. In the calendar year preceding the 2008 Olympics, there was a shift at the hierarchy of men’s tennis as Rafael Nadal displaced Roger Federer as the world number one.
4) Achieving the Career Grand Slam in 2010
After dealing with the rain, the thunder and the lightning, the delays, and Novak Djokovic’s resilient tennis, to win his first US Open title and so become the youngest man of modern times to complete the career grand slam.
At the age of 24 years and three months, Nadal’s collection of grand slam titles consists of five French Open titles, two Wimbledons, one Australian Open and now one US Open.
“This is more than I ever dreamed – it is unbelievable to have this US Open trophy,” Nadal said on the court after his 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 victory.
5) Becoming the World No. 1
An accomplishment help only by a few in history, Nadal adds his name to that glorious list. It is definitely a moment he will never forget. He attained new world No 1 in men’s tennis title by knocking Roger Federer off top spot for the first time in 237 weeks.
“I am playing an unbelievable season, no doubt. I have to be very happy for everything. The feeling for sure is very happy for being number one, but the feeling doesn’t change too much because the last years I did very well too. It is a satisfaction,” said Nadal after become World No. 1.